The food we eat every day has a direct influence on our physical and mental health. In today’s fast-paced world, people often find it difficult to prepare meals at home. Frequently eating out and consuming unhealthy fats and excess sugar results in various health issues including obesity, type-2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart diseases, and numerous mental health issues. While it’s hard to stick to a healthy diet plan and surround yourself with healthy food, making simple changes in your lifestyle and healthy choices can help you stay healthy and fit.
To start with, choosing the right diet plan and figuring out which foods to eat and which ones to avoid can be pretty challenging. While restricted diet plans may seem hard to follow, you can start by making small changes to your daily food intake. To help you develop healthy eating habits and improve your physical and mental well-being, here are nine diet plan tips for you to stay healthy:
1. Include Foods to Boost Mental Health
Our food choices have a direct impact on our mental health. When making healthy choices for your meals, it’s important to include foods that help improve brain function and strengthen nerves. Mental health conditions are often associated with a deficiency of essential nutrients, prolonged stress, and drug abuse.
Various drugs, including excessive caffeine and psychoactive substances like methamphetamine, overstimulate the central nervous system and cause brain damage. You need to be aware of stimulants like cocaine, meth, MDMA, Adderall, and Ritalin and how they affect the body when used in excessive quantities. These stimulants fuel the production of dopamine in the blood, which is the root cause of certain mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, violent mood swings, insomnia, and more.
Research shows that foods rich in fatty acids like omega-3 reduce anxiety, depression, and brain deterioration symptoms. Lean protein, chicken, eggs, leafy greens, whole grains, fermented foods, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish help regulate blood sugar and decrease dopamine levels in drug addicts. A steady intake of such foods helps improve attention span, boost brain function, and increase memory. It’s important to include these items in your daily diet to improve and maintain mental health.
2. Count Your Calories
We often consume food without realizing the number of calories it may contain. Counting calories as we consume food helps us reach our fitness goals and maintain a healthy body-mass index. Various apps can help you count calories in your food and calculate your daily intake of calories and nutrients.
Dieticians recommend a 2000-calorie daily intake for people who wish to maintain their body weight. If you’re planning to shed some extra pounds, you must limit your calorie intake to 1500 or below. However, the daily intake of calories depends on the amount of physical activity. People who exercise daily for at least 30-40 minutes can opt for a 2000-calorie diet and still lose weight.
However, never go for a nosedive drop in calories, as it may result in extremely low sugar levels, dehydration, and dizziness. Drop your daily intake of calories slowly, let’s say, a 100-calorie deficit a day to avoid adverse side effects.
3. Add Complex Carbs to Your Diet
Complex carbohydrates include whole grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, legumes, beans, psyllium husk, high-fiber vegetables, prunes, strawberries, grapefruits, etc. Complex carbs slow down sugar ingestion in the blood and lower the net carb intake. People who choose strict diets take complex carbs as essential components.
Complex carbs also improve gut health, prevent constipation, and mitigate the risk of developing chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes and obesity. Make sure you have at least one portion of complex carbs in each meal.
4. Put Enough Nutrients on Your Plate
Most diet plans focus on maintaining a balance between all essential nutrients and food components. Even strict diet plans like low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets emphasize using fresh greens and salads with adequate protein and healthy fats. When planning a meal, make sure you have at least one portion of complex carbs, one portion of fats, and 1-2 portions of proteins. Add loads of vegetables to your breakfast and lunch. Try to eat cooked or steamed veggies for dinner to avoid gastric issues.
5. Don’t Skimp on Diet Supplements
While any diet plan focuses on limiting daily calorie intake and consuming certain foods in proportions, it alone cannot fulfill your body’s requirement of essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. If you plan to choose a calorie-restricted diet, make sure you take dietary supplements daily.
Low-calorie diets often cause poor nail and hair growth, weakening of follicles, and hair fall. Apart from the basic nutrients like vitamins, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and folate, add supplements like biotin and collagen for healthy hair, nails, and skin.
6. Never Skip Your Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After long hours of sleep, your body needs the energy to do the day’s work. Breakfast helps in boosting metabolism and generates energy for your brain and body. Some people believe skipping breakfast will help them lose weight, but the reality is entirely the opposite. Start your day with a dash of healthy fats, a dose of protein, and a portion of complex carbs.
7. Avoid Crash Diets
Crash diets like egg diets and 13-day diets rely on extremely low-calorie intake for fast weight loss. However, they have adverse side effects on your physical and mental health. Moreover, you must remember that the sooner you lose weight, the sooner it returns. People who follow crash diets to get in shape within a short time often end up gaining more weight shortly after.
8. Choose the Right Diet Plan
Every individual has different nutritional requirements and therefore is no fit-for-all diet plan. The type of diet you choose to adopt depends heavily on your fitness goals. If you want to reduce weight a simple calorie restriction can work for you.
People who want to increase muscle mass often choose a diet high in proteins, while people with deteriorated mental health are prescribed low-carb, high-fat diets like keto and Atkins. Whichever diet you choose for yourself, light to medium physical activity accompanied by healthy eating can boost your mental and physical health and help you lose weight.
9. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods contain heaps of sugar, salt, additives, and hidden carbs that are hazardous to health. Long-term use of processed foods causes lifelong diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart problems.
It worsens certain mental conditions such as anxiety, depression, ASD, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s. Prepare your meal with fresh ingredients and prefer homemade items over readymade food. Additionally, choose organic and fresh produce over genetically modified food items.
Our food choice directly affects our outlook on life and physical and mental well-being. Letting go of unhealthy eating habits and adopting a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy, but starting with a slight decline in calorie intake and introducing healthy food items to your meal can help you form healthy habits. Before choosing the right diet type, it’s always important to consider what you want to achieve from the diet plan. We hope the above list will help you choose diet options for a long-term healthy lifestyle.